Seemingly all you need to be a millionaire these days is a YouTube account, a video camera and something to say that others want to hear and subscribe to. If you manage to draw enough followers to your channel and are invited to become aYouTube Partner, you can make money every time someone watches one of your videos (and the ads that go with them!) This can equate to hundreds, thousands, even millions of dollars for a YouTube star.
Currently the five highest earning YouTubers are: #1: PewDiePie– $7 million (5.4b views); #2: BlueXephos – $6.7 million (2.4b views); #3: Smosh – $5.7 million (3.4b views); #4: DisneyCollectorBR – $5 million (2.6b views); #5: BluCollection – $4.8 million (1.78b views) (Warner, 2014).
The highest earner, PewDiePie, or ‘”Pewds,” as he is often called, simply plays games and allows his audience—mostly teenagers—to peer in on his experience and hear random opinions interspersed with odd behavior. He contorts, screeches, swears, sings and even “twerks” to portray his feelings’ (Grundberg & Hansegard, 2014).
At only twenty four, PewdiePie (Felix Kjellberg) has a base of 27 million subscribers. Game developers love him. He plays even largely unknown games bringing them into the public sphere and whether he loves or hates them doesn’t seem to matter – his fans even buy the games he hates!
“Unlike many professionally produced shows, I think I’ve established a much closer contact with my viewers, breaking the wall between the viewer and what’s behind the screen,” he said. “What I and other YouTubers do is a very different thing, it’s almost like hanging around and watching your pal play games,” he told the Wallstreet Journal (Grundberg & Hansegard, 2014).Although many parents undoubtedly struggle with the popularity of PewDiePie with their children and preteens, particularly with his liberal use of profanities, Vigor Sörman, founder of a YouTubers network in Sweden, believes, “PewDiePie is like a cool friend you have and subscribing to him is almost like Skypeing with him—that’s why viewers are such dedicated fans”(Grundberg & Hansegard, 2014).
Another two in the top five, DisneyCollectorBR and BluCollection, are rumoured to be a husband and wife affair. A woman runs the former site and a male, the latter. Both are very similar as they open packages containing toys, ooh and aah, and play with them. A very simple concept but kids love them. Only their hands appear in the videos and no one really seems to know who they are. Very private people, they shun interviews, don’t use social media and prefer to remain anonymous but combined, their fortunes must be significant and everyone wants to know who they are.
But you don’t even have to be an adult to be a successful YouTube star. At only eight years old, Evan (no last name for privacy reasons), has already made around $1.3 Million. His YouTube channel, EvanTube, grew out of an animation project he did with his father who runs a photography and video production company. He posted his videos on YouTube so his friends could see them, then others started watching them and before long, their first video had a million views. Toy manufacturers began asking him to review their products so that’s what he does; he “reviews toys from the perspective of a regular eight year-old boy, with some help from his Mom and little sister, and his Dad films it all” (Wilson, 2014). His reviews are kid-friendly and fun and viewers love them.
So I’ve been thinking, maybe one of my kids might want to be a YouTube star. How can years of university study and thousands of dollars in debt to earn a degree possibly compare to making (lots of) easy money playing with toys or games and having fun? Not that I’ll be suggesting they all set up YouTube accounts and start filming their looming or game-playing but if they came up with something creative no one else was doing, who knows, their idea could be the next big thing! I’m amazed what people get paid to do on YouTube just because they had an idea, the means to do it and the courage or bravado to carry out.
Warner, B. (2014, March 9). The 25 Highest Earning Youtube Stars. Celebrity Networth. Retrieved October 27, 2014 from http://www.celebritynetworth.com/articles/celebrity/the-25-highest-earning-youtube-stars/
Wilson, P. (2014, October 21). The 8-Year-Old Millionaire Who Has Taken YouTube by Storm. Celebrity Networth. Retrieved October 27, 2014 from http://www.celebritynetworth.com/articles/http://-articles/meet-8-year-old-millionaire-whose-taken-youtube-storm/
Youtube Statistics by Social Blade. (n.d.) Social Blade. Retrieved October 31, 2014 from http://socialblade.com/youtube/